What is a Translation Management System (TMS)

A Translation Management System, or TMS for short, is a software system designed to automate language translation processes.
Stefan M.
3 min
Table of Contents

A Translation Management System, or TMS for short, is a software system designed to automate language translation processes.

Formerly known as Globalization Management System (GMS), a TMS is intended to handle many repetitive translation tasks, improving workflow and increasing translation quality.

By integrating a centralized system for automated translation, companies can optimize marketing strategies, reduce translation costs, and significantly improve both B2B and B2C communication.

With a blend of project management and artificial intelligence features, translation management systems offer a modern way of taking your translation management business to a whole new level.

Why is a Translation Management System (TMS) Important

For a company to maximize its growth, they have to offer its product to a wide range of demographics. Inevitably, this necessitates communication with people of different cultures.

Ever since doing business on a global scale became possible, the question of how to effectively convey your message across multiple languages kept creeping up.

Studies even show that 65% of people proficient in English prefer online shopping in their native language.

Marketing your product or service can be difficult enough all on its own. Having to do it in multiple languages simultaneously can therefore come off as a marketing nightmare. However, it doesn’t have to be.

Integrating a translation management system into your enterprise can circumvent many problems associated with large-scale content translation. As a result, companies can reach out to a wider range of audiences, all while reducing costs and improving time efficiency.

How does a Translation Management System (TMS) Work

A fundamental translation management system concept is an effective, start-to-finish workflow.

The starting point of every translation process has content in the form of text. This text is then effectively translated to each target language in a series of well-defined steps. 

Having knowledge of the ins and outs of these systems will help you understand how to apply them to your translation project best.


The very first step in an efficient system is adequate preparation. 

This is probably the most important part of the process. Neglecting it is bound to yield problems down the road while prioritizing it will prevent issues before they even get a chance to manifest themselves.

Preparation includes file naming and sorting, editing, and double-checking for word length and colloquialisms.

Additionally, it is important to run your content through translation memory, while also setting a machine translation engine as a reference for upcoming translation tasks.

Using a TMS that diligently adheres to these precautions will always pay off in the long term.

Hiring a Translator

When hiring a translator, ideally, you would look for a native speaker of the target language with sufficient knowledge of the subject matter. However, this is not always possible. Being able to quickly tackle this challenge is important for any translation process. 

A good TMS includes a reliable method for hiring the most qualified translators and project managers.

Taking into consideration factors such as availability, cost, knowledge of translated material, and overall translating expertise, a good system will easily gather a pool of suitable candidates for the job.

Furthermore, once a translator is hired, the integrated communication medium within the TMS will make working with them much more productive.

Forwarding the Material

Tying into the previous steps, once the preparation is complete, the prepared content is neatly packaged up and forwarded to the translator.

That often includes text resource files, a machine translation output, and additional translation instructions.

The TMS will neatly compile the information and provide the translator with a clear overview of the task at hand.

Once he receives the necessary resources, his only concern should be the translation. In other words, the key here is to create an intuitive roadmap of your content for your translator.

Quality Control

Upon receiving the translated text, the next step in the system is quality control.

This task is often assigned to a professional translator, different from the one that did the original translation. Having multiple people look at the content from different angles is always a good way to catch any previously undetected quality issues.

A good system is capable of monitoring the reviewer's progress, and making estimates of time until completion. Additionally, the reviewer is able to submit any comments and suggestions directly to the system for further evaluation.

Re-Import and Publication

After all the previous steps have been successfully completed, it is time to bring the translated content back into the system. However, this can be a potential problem area for those unfamiliar with translation management systems.

A TMS embeds files with metadata and tags. These blocks of information make the content easier to track and organize. With a smart filtering method built into your system, you can quickly find whichever document you are looking for.

Fortunately, most of these processes are easily automated, saving you plenty of time. After some trial and error, you will quickly figure out the best way to adjust your system to suit the particular workflow of your business.

Financial Management

For most companies, the final step of their workflow is financial management. This usually includes things like billing, invoicing, financial reports, etc.

While numbers and huge amounts of paperwork might be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about financial management, it doesn’t have to be so complicated.

Modern TMSs can process and compile information related to your company’s finances. This makes tracking your company’s revenue and expenses and generating reports and estimates quite effortless.

Why do Businesses need a Translation Management System (TMS)?

Today, industries and their respective markets are being globalized at a rapid pace. As a result, the expectation of having content published in a wide array of languages is more present than ever.

For example, China accounts for about 50% of all Android and iOS app downloads. That is a lot of people who aren’t native to the English language.

In the past, translation projects of smaller proportions were convenient enough to be handled manually. However, due to the increasing need for localization, the translation process can quickly become an unwieldy project management nightmare.

Let’s take into consideration the translation methods of the past few decades. Using spreadsheets was one of the most effective approaches to translation management. But, even then, most translation tasks were quite laborious, inefficient, and mistake-laden.

Today, having to conduct this same operation manually multiplies the chance of error by the number of target languages and the number of people working on the translations. As you can imagine, small mistakes take very little to become big.

By adopting a good translation management system, companies can carefully monitor their content translation and localization process from start to finish.

What is the Difference Between Translation and Localization

When deciding which translation management system is best for you and your business, it is helpful to understand the difference between translation and localization.

While these two terms are often used synonymously, they do relate to different things


Translation is the conversion of text from a starting language, also referred to as “the source”, to another, referred to as “the target". With translation, the key is to accurately convey the meaning of the original text with its translated counterpart.


Localization is the adaptation of the translated text to the culture of the target audience. With localization, you strive to familiarize your product with your target market. In doing so, you present the product as being native to your buyers, resulting in a better marketing strategy.


Many of the world's languages are spoken in different variations in different places. This plays a big role in how you approach your marketing.

A good example of this is the Spanish language. Spanish is spoken not only in Spain, but also in places like Argentina, and Mexico.

Carelessly using the same translation of the source in each of these places can be detrimental to your business’ growth. The issues can include misinterpretation of given text across different cultures, or it can simply have a different meaning.

In fact, a 2023 study shows that 40% of internet users report having no interest in buying from websites that are not in their native language.

Cloud-Based and On-Site Translation Management Systems (TMS)

Another important thing to take into consideration is the difference between Cloud-Based and On-Site systems for translation management

The key difference here is whether the system is stored on an online cloud, or an internal, physical server within the company.


A Cloud-based translation management software is hosted online. This type of system is accessible to you and your employees via browser, as long as you have a stable internet connection.

The setback of this type of system is that it is reliant on a cloud service, and requires access to the internet.

However, the advantage of the cloud-based approach is that the system can be updated for all users from a single source. This maximizes workflow efficiency and eliminates unnecessary complications. 


An On-Site translation management system is translation software managed by your company’s IT sector. Each user has the latest version of the translation management software installed on their work computers.

This method is more technically demanding. Any translation management software updates must be manually installed on each computer. 

The upside of the On-Site approach is that the translation management system can be tailored to your company’s needs down to the nuances. Having a full translation team full of trained IT experts can make this approach very effective.

What Translation Management System (TMS) is the Best?

The best Translation Management System is one that can streamline your translation management workflow from start to finish. While the needs of each individual company vary, cloud-based systems tend to be the most versatile and easy to use.

Choosing the best translation management system comes down to the particular workflow of your business. There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Each system has its strengths and weaknesses.

However, recent studies show that using the right translation software can cut translation costs by up to 90%.

With that in mind, it is helpful to know what to look out for when choosing the best system for your company.

How Easy is it to Use?

One of the best ways to kill an effective workflow is by making simple things complicated.

When evaluating a TMS, always consider its ease of use. 

Is it intuitive? Are the processes easy to follow? Does it require training to use? What does the learning curve look like? All of these parameters factor into whether or not a particular TMS is ideal for your company.

This is especially true for larger enterprises. Having to put all your employees through training just so they can use the basic functions of translation tools costs a lot of time and money. That time and money can be better spent on growing your enterprise.

Is it Scalable?

Another hallmark of a good TMS is that it’s scalable.

The last thing anyone wants is for their system to come short just as their company is beginning to expand.

 Long-term goals are as equally important as short-term achievements. Always take your plans for the future into consideration when deciding what TMS to commit to.

Does it Provide Customer Support?

As already mentioned, completely adopting a TMS into your business operations can take some trial and error. Nonetheless, for a business to run smoothly, any obstacles need to be cleared as soon as they appear.

It stands to reason that this is another determinant of a good translation management tool.

A TMS with good customer support will ensure that any inquiries you might have will be answered without much delay.  This keeps your workflow consistent and serves as a safety need as your company grows.

How Specialized is your Niche?

When it comes to translation management, most companies need an all-around, general-use system. However, if your niche is very specific, or your workflow uncommon, specialized translation tools might be what you need. 

Some systems are specially designed for the particular needs of certain industries. This can range from web and software design, to audio-visual content, social media marketing, and so forth.

As you browse for a suitable TMS, always make sure it caters to the requirements of your chosen niche.

Costs and Budget

It comes as no surprise that the price will impact your decision on which TMS to purchase.

Today, cloud-based systems are undoubtedly the most popular choice. However, most of them work on a subscription-based system.

Furthermore, the costs of using a cloud-based system can vary not only from provider to provider, but also with the features that come with different subscription models.

With that in mind, it is advisable to make a calculated estimate of how much you will have to spend annually for your TMS.

Best Translation Management Systems

With so many TMS providers out there, it can be difficult to decide which one to use. To help you narrow your choice down, we're going to look at a couple of language service providers with strong machine translation engines that can help you with translation process automation.

  • Bureau Works helps translators and translation agencies to boost their translation process by leveraging translation memory and intelligent automation. Centralize your content, track translation progress, and easily manage projects. Making it ideal for streamlining your translation workflow.
  • XTM Cloud - As an enterprise translation management system, XTM provides advanced text analytics to help you understand how your content performs across different channels.
  • SDL Trados - With over 270,00 users, SDL Trados is one of the world's most popular translation management systems. It offers a range of options to help you automate your translation processes, such as automated and machine-assisted translation.
  • Plunet- This business management tool is designed to be used by translation companies and language service providers. It provides a range of features that can help you manage your projects, including project management capabilities, payment processing, document workflow automation, and more.

Check Out our Bureau Works Translation Software

Now that you have a good understanding of how translation management systems are, we invite you to take a look at our advanced translation management system.

With decades of translation management know-how distilled into a single software, we strive to deliver an intuitive, easy-to-use solution right at your fingertips

Long gone are the days of spreadsheets, inefficient translation systems, and repetitive, labor-intensive tasks. 

The Bureau Works team has got your back! We’re only a click away.

Take your translation workflow to the next level.

Stefan M.
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